Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, August 13, 2001


Page 1


Bascue Institutes Policy of Random Reassignment Following 170.6 Disqualifications



By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Los Angeles Superior Court Friday unveiled a new random reassignment policy for general civil cases in which a judge is disqualified under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 170.6.

Effective immediately, such cases will be reassigned at random to a bench officer within the same courthouse, by order of Presiding Judge James Bascue. The policy doesn’t apply in Lancaster, which has only two general civil courts now that most Antelope Valley civil cases are being heard in Palmdale, nor does it apply to trial-ready cases being sent out.

Sec. 170.6 is the peremptory challenge statute affecting judges. Lawyers may exercise a single challenge per case under the statute. In the Los Angeles Superior Court, replacement judges until now have been assigned by the department’s supervising judge.

Some lawyers expressed a belief that the choices of replacement judges were deliberately punitive, in order to discourage future peremptory challenges.

Bascue was not available for comment Friday, but Assistant Presiding Judge Robert Dukes said the policy was adopted in response to suggestions by attorney groups. “The bar was concerned” with the perceived unfairness of the past policy of allowing supervising judges to designate the replacement judge, Dukes said.

The head of the county’s largest bar group agreed.

“Judge Bascue should be commended for his leadership and effort in making the Superior Court more user friendly,” Los Angeles County Bar Association President Roland Coleman said in a statement. “This new policy directive on random reassignments demonstrates that the Court leadership is trying to be responsive to the needs of the lawyers and clients served by the Court. On behalf of the members of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, we are very appreciative.”


Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company